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Mashed 'Choke

March 22, 2000|DONNA DEANE

Beautiful spring artichokes, now in markets, are one of our most delicate vegetables. They're low in calories and high in vitamin C and fiber. Some of the most popular ways to enjoy artichokes, though, are high in fat.

Skip the garlic butter and hollandaise-type sauces, and try this low-fat artichoke pesto. It has a good artichoke flavor and looks beautiful when spooned into an artichoke bottom surrounded with some of the leaves. Spoon or spread the pesto on the end of an artichoke leaf before eating. You can also serve any leftover leaves with a plain yogurt and garlic dip or a simple soy and ginger dip.

To test the freshness of an artichoke, squeeze it. It should make a squeaking sound if the leaves are firm and tight. Artichokes may be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator up to five days. Sprinkle a few drops of water in the bag before sealing to keep them moist.

Artichoke Pesto

Active Work Time: 30 minutes * Total Preparation Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

4 artichokes

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

Lemon wedges, for garnish

Chopped parsley, for garnish

* Remove any bruised or damaged leaves from base of each artichoke. Trim stem, then cut off top quarter of each artichoke. Trim sharp end of leaves with scissors. Place artichokes upright in steamer, and steam 45 to 50 minutes until artichokes are tender and leaves easily pull free.

* Remove leaves from artichokes; reserve. Scoop choke from bottom of each artichoke. Reserve 1 artichoke bottom for serving pesto.

* Puree remaining artichoke bottoms with lemon juice until smooth. Add garlic, Parmesan, olive oil and salt, and puree until blended.

* Arrange leaves in circular pattern on serving platter. Place reserved artichoke bottom in center of plate. Spoon pesto onto artichoke bottom. Arrange lemon wedges in decorative pattern around artichoke bottom. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

About 1 cup pesto. Each tablespoon: 22 calories; 192 mg sodium; 1 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram protein; 0.38 gram fiber.

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